By LARS ENARSON, ICZC—
On May 25, Pope Francis will begin his two-day visit to the Holy Land. It will begin in Bethlehem with a large mass together with PA leader Mahmoud Abbas. Palestinians are already celebrating the visit, saying his choice to begin the trip directly in PA-held Bethlehem is meant to “recognize Palestine,” and “oppose the occupation.”
Hind Khoury, a former PA minister for Jerusalem affairs, has admitted that every detail of the visit “will be highly charged politically.” Already in February, Rabbi Sergio Bergman, a member of the Argentinian parliament and close friend of Pope Francis, said that the pope intends to define himself as the “Che Guevera of the Palestinians” and support their struggle and rights during his visit.
After the mass services in Bethlehem, the pope is to visit a nearby “refugee camp.” Ziyyad Bandak, Abbas’s adviser for Christian affairs has explained that the pope “will have a lunch with Palestinians, with families suffering from the occupation …then he will visit Dheishe refugee camp to witness the suffering of Palestinian refugees…This visit will help us in supporting our struggle to end the longest occupation in history.”
Father Jamal Khader of the Latin patriarchate in Jerusalem told AFP, “Knowing who he is, and his sensitivity for all those who suffer, I am sure that he will say something defending all those who are suffering, including the Palestinians who live under occupation.”
Everything about the pope’s visit is carefully arranged in great detail to convey a political message. That the “Vicar of Christ on earth” has chosen to meet with the Palestinian leader Abbas before he meets with the Prime Minister of Israel, even though Abbas has just signed a unity agreement with Hamas, is no mistake even though the political implications are wicked and a desecration of the Name the pope claims to represent.
The pope’s limited time in Jerusalem will be equally political in nature. After first visiting with Greek Orthodox Church leaders on the evening of his arrival, the first thing he will do the following morning is, not to go to the Western Wall, but to visit the Temple Mount-or as the Vatican expresses it, “The Esplanade of the Mosques”-accompanied by the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem in a show of approval of Islamic rule over the Temple Mount, Judaism’s most sacred site in the world.
When the pope finally meets with Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, he will not do so at the Prime Minister’s residence or in the Knesset, but at the Vatican-owned Notre Dame complex! This is also a political statement, declaring in essence: “This land is really not yours but mine!” The Prime Minister might not have to bow to the pontiff, but he might be forced to sit lower than the pope during their meeting.
Silent About Christian Persecution
Two weeks ago, Christian Arab residents of the village of El-Khader in the Bethlehem area were savagely attacked by local Muslims as they celebrated a Christian holiday. Christians attempting to enter Saint George’s Monastery in the village were intimidated and attacked with rocks and stones.
Ever since the Oslo Accords handed over control of large parts of Judea and Samaria to the Muslim Palestinian Authority, Christians in Bethlehem have been suffering many examples of intimidation, beatings, land theft, firebombing of churches and other Christian institutions, denial of employment, economic boycotts, torture, kidnapping, forced marriage, sexual harassment, and extortion documented by Justus Reid Weiner of Hebrew University.
PA officials are reportedly directly responsible for many of the attacks, and some Muslims who have converted to Christianity have been murdered. The Christian population went from a 60 percent majority in 1990 to a 40 percent minority in 2000, to about 15 percent of the city’s total population today, according to Weiner.
In a recent Op-Ed piece in the Wall Street Journal, former Israeli ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, wrote that “As 800,000 Jews were once expelled from Arab countries, so are Christians being forced from lands they’ve inhabited for centuries” throughout the Middle East. Citing statistics, Oren wrote that Ramallah was 90% Christian before the 1948 War of Independence and Bethlehem was 80% Christian. Today Ramallah is a large Islamic city and Bethlehem’s Christians are near extinction.
But, ahead of his visit the pope has been remarkably silent regarding the violent persecution of Christians in Bethlehem, instead choosing to condemn alleged Jewish “price tag” vandalism against Christians and Muslims.
As the papal visit nears, the talk in the media – and statements from the Catholic Church – is about Jewish graffiti, not Bethlehem’s Christian tragedy. The papacy has been up in arms over ‘price tag’ attacks, a euphemism for politically motivated vandalism and criminal damage usually attributed to Jewish extremists. The Vatican has expressed heightened concern over several attacks on Christian sites in Israel over the past several weeks.
“This wave of extremist actions of terror is surely of grave concern to all reasonable persons,” said Fouad Twal, the most senior Catholic cleric in Israel, recently in Haifa. Twal accused the Israeli authorities of not doing enough to bring the perpetrators to justice, saying “the actions are only drawing condemnation by Israeli leaders, but few arrests.”
The patriarch noted that the increase in attacks had occurred just two weeks before Pope Francis’ visit to Israel. “At this point, the unrestrained acts of vandalism poison the atmosphere, the atmosphere of coexistence and the atmosphere of collaboration, especially in these two weeks prior to the visit of Pope Francis,” he said.
Twal then continued to criticize what he called the “pedagogical effect of an official discourse that insists that the state is only for one group of people” as being a factor behind the wave of attacks. This is of course a veiled and sinister criticism of Israel’s insistence to be recognized as a Jewish state in the negotiations with the Palestinians.
“There is a question of how are we educating our children? What do they learn about those who are different from them with regard to religion, nationality or ethnic identity? What is learned in those circles that are producing the young people who commit these acts of hatred?” he questioned.
While the Catholic Patriarch Twal declared Jewish price tag attacks to be acts of terror, he did not say one word about Palestinian ongoing terrorist attacks and murders of innocent Jewish civilians. After all, spraying a wall with paint is not in the same league as spraying a car with bullets. Slashing a tire is not the same as slashing a throat.
A Consistent Pattern
The pope’s bias against Israel is no surprise. It follows a very consistent pattern over the past century from the very beginning of the Zionist movement.
Already in 1974, the Vatican recognized the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), but it took almost fifty years to recognize the state of Israel. It did not happen until 1994, after Israel had signed the Oslo Accords. The Jewish State was never even mentioned in the famous “Nostra Aetate” declaration of 1965, in the “Guidelines” of 1974, or in any Papal statement before the 1980s.
The Vatican policy under the last two popes, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, has been very clear and consistent: theological dialogue with the Jews and full political support for the Palestinian Arabs. Both popes visited Auschwitz and synagogues, but they were also pioneers in the Palestinian Arab Islamic project.
Pope Francis will not be different. As Italian Journalist and author Giulio Meotti has expressed it, “His tears at the ‘Palestinian refugee camp’ will be purely political, while his tears at the Yad Vashem Hall of the Children will be totally hypocritical.”
Pope Francis is forging a strong Muslim-Christian alliance that is preventing the Catholic Church from aiding persecuted Christians throughout the Muslim world. It leaves Israel out in the cold as the Catholic Church has adopted the Muslim narrative on Palestine.
“The Vatican Against Israel: J’Accuse”
In Guili Meotti’s recently released book, “The Vatican Against Israel: J’Accuse,” Meotti examines how the Catholic Church has continued to be a willing and eager partner in the destruction of the Jewish people in the modern era. The following are excerpts from a review of Meotti’s book by Janet Levy.
The Catholic Church helped promulgate the anti-Semitic hoax The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The first translation of this damaging blood libel was translated by Arab Christians and published by a periodical of the Catholic Community in Jerusalem in 1926.
When Adolph Hitler came to power in Germany, the Vatican was the first state to formally recognize the legitimacy of the Third Reich and it maintained diplomatic relations with the Nazi government through the very end of the war.
At the end of World War II, in the vilest disregard for the memory of millions who perished during the Nazi genocide, the Vatican sheltered from prosecution a number of Nazis, in effect, granting tacit approval for the actions of these Nazi butchers. War criminals, including Adolph Eichmann, Dr. Joseph Mengele, Klaus Barbie, Franz Stangl, and others fled through Italy with assistance from the Catholic network.
Mr. Meotti reports that Vatican support and admiration for the Nazis didn’t end there. In 1994, Pope John Paul II conferred papal knighthood on documented Nazi war criminal Kurt Waldheim, who had gone on after World War II to become Secretary-General of the United Nations. The papal honor, given despite a well-known 1985 controversy over Waldheim’s Nazi past, was in effect spitting on the memory of Holocaust victims, survivors, and their descendants.
To further confer disgrace on its actions, the Vatican recognized Waldheim’s “efforts for peace,” demonizing Israel for defending itself against Arab-Palestinian terrorism, which had occurred during Waldheim’s tenure as Secretary-General. By welcoming Waldheim to the Vatican as an honored visitor, the Vatican was symbolically cleansing him of the stain of his Holocaust crimes and glorifying his work on behalf of the U.N. to destroy the Jewish State.
The Creation of the Jewish State
In “The Vatican Against Israel”, the author reveals how the Catholic Church initially fought against the British Mandate for Palestine that established Israel and, after its founding, demonized and delegitimized Israel’s existence. Even as Jews were being gassed during the Holocaust, the Church was consumed with stopping the creation of Israel and the return of Jews to their ancestral land, because this ran counter to Church theology that Jews were condemned to eternal homelessness for their crime of deicide almost 2,000 years earlier.
The Church stridently maintained the position that Zionism was anti-Christian and anti-Catholic and that the sole route to salvation was through conversion. The ultimate founding of the Jewish State was problematic for the Catholic Church, because it invalidated the church’s replacement theology and its doctrine about the Jewish people – that all Jews for generations to come were to be cursed and punished for deicide. As late as 1904, Pope Pius X told Theodore Herzl, Zionism’s founder, that he would never approve the movement because “the Jews have not recognized our Lord.”
It was not until 1965, 1,700 years after the Church had condemned Jews for all eternity, that the Vatican issued Nostra Aetate, releasing the Jews of today from responsibility for the death of Christ. However, the document failed to apologize for past Christian anti-Semitism and did not validate Judaism or recognize the Jewish State, which by then had existed for 17 years.
The Vatican and Arab Muslims
As for political involvement in the Arab-Muslim war against Israel, Meotti describes how the Vatican made common cause with Arab-Palestinians, supporting their apocryphal claims to territory and even excusing acts of terrorism.
Pope John Paul II went so far as to publicly brand as an Israeli-initiated Shoah, what were actually falsified accounts of Israeli oppression of Palestinians.
Pope John Paul II granted several audiences to Yasser Arafat, the father of modern terrorism and the head of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), who had ordered and carried out attacks against Jewish civilians and was seeking publicity and legitimacy on the world stage. While openly proclaiming hatred of the Jews and plans to annihilate Israel, Arafat and his henchman were granted respectability by the Catholic Church.
When PLO Chairman Arafat died in 2004, the pope eulogized the terrorist as a great leader in this “hour of sadness” and spoke fondly of his closeness to the Arafat family.
Meanwhile, Catholic acceptance of Israel has been tepid at best. Every attempt is made to demonize and delegitimize the Jewish State and support the Arab-Palestinian narrative, even following scores of suicide bombings and tens of thousands of rocket attacks on Israeli land. The Vatican advances the view that Palestinian violence is a justifiable reaction to “oppression and humiliation” by the Israelis.
Never mentioned are the openly stated goals of Hamas and Hezbollah to destroy the Jewish state. No Vatican condemnations have been made for over 11,000 rocket attacks that have murdered and maimed hundreds of Israeli civilians. Israel’s attempts to defend itself have been characterized as acts of aggression.
In 2002, at the height of the Intifada, the Catholic Church condoned and legitimized Palestinian terrorism by terming the attacks against Israel as a “cry for justice.” At a pro-Palestinian protest parade in Rome in 2002, Archbishop Capucci, who had used his Vatican immunity in the past to smuggle arms and explosives to Fatah terrorists, defended suicide bombers and stated, “Greetings to the sons of the Intifada and to the martyrs who go and fight as if they were going to a party. . . . We want our land, or we will die with dignity . . . Intifada till victory.” No criticism or repercussions were forthcoming from the Vatican.
In addition to the above, Meotti lists a multitude of Catholic NGOs, such as Trocaire, Pax Christi, Cordaid, and Caritas which legitimate terrorist activities and demonize Israel through boycott, divestment, and sanction (BDS) campaigns. The NGOs also compare Zionism to Nazism and stage events in which Israel’s security barriers, which have saved Jewish lives, are labeled as “apartheid walls.”
Even today, many Vatican Christian pilgrimage and tourist tour maps fail to mention Israel. Instead, the area is labeled “Holy Land” or “Palestine.” The Catholic Church’s anti-Israel propaganda is intensified by tours that are purposely designed to cast the Jewish state in a negative light. Palestinian guides focus exclusively on controlled visits to the Palestinian territories and instill hatred of Israel by skewing the narrative and insuring that visitors leave ignorant of the true nature of the Jewish State, the only democracy in the region.
Meotti, in his account of Vatican history, prophesies that the Catholic Church’s actions toward the Jews and Israel will result in tragic consequences for both Jews and Christians. By attacking Israel and resisting significant ties with Jews and the Jewish state in favor of a deadly Christian-Muslim alliance, the Catholic Church is sowing the seeds of its own demise. The future for Christians is glaringly spelled out by the drastically diminished populations of Bethlehem, Ramallah, Gaza, and the ‘West Bank'”, where Christians are used as human shields and Christian homes serve as rocket launch sites.
Throughout Muslim countries in the Middle East, Christians are being massacred and forced out of the land. The bombing of Christian shops, schools, and churches, and the torture and murder of priests has become almost daily fare, he shows. This is the future that awaits the Church and its Christian followers if they persist in aligning with Muslims and fail to overcome their historic and current anti-Semitic acts.
In February, Pope Francis sent a video recorded personal message to the annual Kenneth Copeland Ministers’ Conference asking for unity in the Body of Christ. The message was enthusiastically received.
Shortly afterwards well-known Swedish Charismatic pastor Ulf Ekman announced that he is leaving his church, converting to become a Catholic. He stated that he needs the Catholic Church for his salvation and that the pope is the key to answering the prayer of Jesus for unity in the Church. Other Charismatic leaders in Sweden have expressed the same opinion about the pope and have lectured in events with that goal. There are even Messianic Jewish leaders in Israel that have been drawn into this false movement.
We must pray that this movement of unity under the pope, which clearly is against Israel and the Jewish people, will be exposed as a deception. Pray that God will use Pope Francis upcoming visit to Israel to open the eyes of those who have been blinded by the enemy, and set many free! This is a very serious issue and we encourage you to forward this urgent Prayer Alert to as many people as possible. We must also pray that the Government of Israel will not be deceived, and that the Prime Minister and other leaders will not be afraid to speak the truth to the pope.
There is a rumor that Pope Francis will lay a wreath at the grave of Herzl when he comes to Jerusalem as an apology for the pope’s rejection of Herzl in 1904. This is a very nice gesture, but in reality a quite meaningless ceremony, since the Vatican now has recognized the state of Israel. The real question is if the person and the church, which claims to represent the Messiah of Israel, will acknowledge the countless promises given to the Jewish people concerning their eternal capital Jerusalem, as well as Judea and Samaria. The actions of the Vatican show that the answer is a clear “NO!” We must not be deceived!